World champion Rob Cross faces a race to be fit for next week’s Premier League Play-Offs after pulling out of this weekend’s Dutch Darts Masters on medical advice.
‘Voltage’ had been set to compete in Zwolle this weekend, but he has been forced to withdraw due to an ongoing chest problem.
The world number three, who will face Michael van Gerwen in Thursday’s semi-finals at the O2, revealed via social media that he has a damaged cartilage in his sternum and requires a scan next week.
Cross admitted: “I’ve been having trouble breathing and sleeping for a few weeks now. I thought I’d just hurt a muscle or something. But I was ill the previous weekend in Germany and was sick and I think that has worsened the problem. I was really struggling in Aberdeen so I saw a doctor after I played Simon Whitlock and he ordered immediate rest.
“He said that flying and being away could worsen the problem and that I need to have a scan for a proper check on Monday. It’s obviously not what I need right on the eve of the O2 Finals. But I’ll keep playing.
“To be honest, I wanted to play this weekend to keep me as sharp as possible and I apologise to the Dutch fans for missing their event. But I need to make sure I am as good as I can be for Thursday night. Hopefully the scan will be ok and I will start to feel better,” Cross added.
The Hastings star endured a nightmare start to his debut Premier League campaign, losing his opening two games against Michael van Gerwen and Simon Whitlock; picking up just three legs in the process. However, he rallied impressively; winning seven of his next eight games to solidify a play-off spot.
Despite this, Cross is winless in his last five games, suffering defeats to Gary Anderson and Van Gerwen, whilst sharing the spoils against Peter Wright, Raymond van Barneveld and Simon Whitlock respectively. This saw ‘Voltage’ slip to fourth position in the league, leaving him the unenviable task of taking on MvG for a place in the final.
However, the world champion is bullish about his prospects. “I’ve really enjoyed my first campaign. Have I played my best darts? Probably not. It’s been a bit of a life change, but I think I’ve coped well with it and I can top it off at the O2. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be great and I just hope I’m fully fit,” he admitted.
Nevertheless, Cross isn’t the only Premier League semi-finalist who is currently being plagued by illness. Michael Smith- who will face Gary Anderson in the last four after finishing the league phase in second spot, is also struggling with pleurisy as the gruelling 15-week campaign begins to take its toll.
‘Bully Boy’ bravely battled to a point against Raymond van Barneveld in an entertaining tussle on Thursday, but he has decided to compete in Zwolle, as victory on Dutch soil will see Smith seal World Cup qualification and earn the right to partner Cross in Frankfurt.
As a result of Cross’ withdrawal in Zwolle, his intended second round opponent, Steve Lennon, will now receive a bye through to Sunday’s last 16. We all wish Rob well quickly and hope to see him fighting fit for Finals Night at the O2 on Thursday.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Lustig/PDC